Stump Dodger Trail

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Kickapoo Stump Dodger 

Trail continues to make strides

By Ted Pennekamp


The Kickapoo Stump Dodger Trail Project continues to move along, gaining traction one step at a time. 

The current focus of the project is to get it started near Gays Mills. Once the Gays Mills section is established, the Stump Dodger Trail Committee hopes other communities along the Kickapoo River, from Wauzeka to La Farge and beyond will join in the effort to eventually have the trail extend the length of the Kickapoo River Valley. 

Much like the Wisconsin River Trail being planned from Boscobel to Wauzeka, the goal of the Stump Dodger Trail Committee is to create a silent-sports (non-motorized) scenic venue to serve the recreation and health interests of area communities as well as for visitors. Eventually, it is hoped that residents as well as tourists will be able to enjoy hiking, bicycling, or cross country skiing along the beautiful Kickapoo River Valley.

The desired route near Gays Mills would be to follow along the back (west) fence of the Crawford County Fairgrounds. That lane would connect the Kickapoo Bottoms Conservancy Area on the south with village property on the north, said Brad Niemcek, chair of the Kickapoo Stump Dodger Trail Committee. In October of 2015, the Crawford County Board voted to have the Crawford County Fair Committee review the details and approve of them for the board assuming there are no glitches. 

“We would agree to restrict trail users from accessing the fairgrounds during the annual County Fair weekend and whenever else someone rented the grounds for an admission-charging event, such as the annual flea market there,” said Niemcek.

Niemcek noted that negotiations with property owners seem to be going reasonably well under the patient direction of Harry Heisz, Gays Mills Village Board President.

The next step, said Niemcek, will be to prepare and restore the railroad bed as soon as the ground thaws. “We’re hoping to start cutting brush soon, then grubbing out the roots at thaw time,” he said.

Niemcek said more than $10,000 has been pledged or received for the trail project so far, and a like amount by business interests is expected as soon so the Stump Dodger Trail Committee can announce a “formal” start to trail preparations. Fund-raising efforts will be ongoing and community support is welcomed and needed, said Niemcek. Monetary contributions as well as donations of time and materials will help to complete the trail. Throughout the fund-raising campaign, people will see Trail Pails into which money and offers of help can be made at various places throughout Gays Mills.

Elements of the trail can be named in honor or memory of loved ones. Families can contribute as lasting memorials and donors will be recognized at various spots along the trail. 

Monetary donations are tax deductible and can be made by check to the Kickapoo Stump Dodger Trail Fund and mailed to the Village of Gays Mills, 16381, Highway 131, Gays Mills, WI, 54631. Pledges of materials or work can be made to Brad Niemcek, chair of the Kickapoo Stump Dodger Trail Committee, care of the village of Gays Mills. More information can be obtained by calling (608) 735-4341.

A community survey in 2011 overwhelmingly supported the development of the Stump Dodger Trail. The stretch near Gays Mills is estimated to cost $90,000. The DNR will give a grant for $45,000 if the community and other interested parties can raise the other half in cash or in-kind donations of labor and materials. Under terms of the agreement, the village of Gays Mills needs to begin development in the spring of 2016 and complete this stretch of the trail by October of 2017.

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